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Metalworking fluid or ‘white water’ inspections

Since October, HSE has been inspecting manufacturing businesses that use metalworking fluids in their machining processes, with more than half of inspections identifying failings.

As a result, enforcement action has been taken against employers.

The 3 common failings found were:

  1. not having local exhaust ventilation
  2. failing to complete regular fluid quality checks
  3. not providing health surveillance for lung and skin conditions

Why it matters

Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause harm to lungs and skin through inhalation or direct contact with unprotected skin; particularly hands, forearms and face. Breathing in the mist generated by machining can lead to lung diseases.

Metalworking fluid is a hazardous substance that comes under COSHH regulations (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002).

The annual statistics on work-related ill health and workplace injuries for 2022/23 show:

  • an estimated 12,000 people die each year from lung diseases linked to exposure to hazardous substances at work
  • an estimated 19,000 new cases of breathing and lung problems are thought to have been caused or made worse by work
  • the manufacturing industry has a substantially higher rate than average for occupational asthma

Consultations on testing proposals under Article 40(2) of UK REACH (deadline: 2 May 2024)

HSE has received testing proposals to undertake testing in vertebrates to consider and evaluate.

Article 40(2) of the UK REACH Regulation requires HSE to invite third parties to submit scientifically valid information and studies that are relevant to the hazard endpoints for which vertebrate testing is proposed. These submissions will be considered and evaluated alongside the proposals submitted by the registrants.

Any interested third parties are invited to provide such information and studies that address the substances and hazard endpoints below. Information can be submitted by any member of the public or interested party.

  Consultation details for the endpoints for which testing is proposed can be viewed by following the links below:

Reaction product of propylidynetrimethanol, propoxylated, reaction products with ammonia and 2,2-Dimethyl-3-(4-morpholinyl)propanal


Scientific and technical information relevant to the hazard endpoints should be submitted directly to HSE using the commenting webform and templates by 2 May 2024.

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